Four page letter and corresponding envelope from a camp near Newport News, Virginia. Steele was a Private in Company "B" of the 85th New York Infantry. In his letter he describes his arduous journey to Alexandria, Virginia and then his voyage aboard a ship to Fortress Monroe, Virginia. He noted the the extensive burned ruins of Hampton and surrounding areas by the Rebel troops and described his picket duty along the Yorktown Road. Steele noted the proximity of the vast numbers of Rebel troops near his encampment. He also made mention of seeing a glimpse of the Monitor in the harbor and the Rebel Merrimac. Included with the letter is a picture of Edgar Steele, probably taken while training in New York. An advertisement is printed on the reverse of the picture for Charles H. Skies, General Traveling Agent for the Weed Sewing Machine Company, based out of Hartford, Connecticut with a branch in Elmira, New York.
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Biographical / Historical
Edgar Steele was born about 1842 in New York. On Septembet 30, 1861 he enlisted in the Union Army in East Bloomfield, New York at the age of 19. On October 7, 1861 he was mustered into Company "D" of the New York 85th Infantry. On January 1, 1862 he transferred from Company "D" to Comapny "B" of the same regiment. He was killed at the Battle of Far Oaks, Virginia on May 31, 1862.
Edgar Steele Letter to John Debow, 1862 April 13, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, College of William and Mary. https://scrcguides.libraries.wm.edu/repositories/2/resources/7579 Accessed November 28, 2020.